Sanctuary offering hope for addicts moves a step closer

IPSWICH/ SUFFOLK: We promised we would never forget – and we haven’t.

Four years after five sex workers were murdered by serial killer Steve Wright on the streets of Ipswich, a new beacon of hope for drug addicts is today shining bright.

Ipswich-based charity Talitha Koum is calling for donations of time and money to help women whose lives have been blighted by addiction realise a better future.

The term Talitha Koum comes from the Bible and means “little girl get up”. It is a sentiment which embodies the vision for a new sanctuary, a place of hope, tucked away in the Suffolk countryside, just north of Ipswich.

The Christian therapeutic community will be built on a two-acre farm and open to women of any faith or none.

The project was kick-started with a �20,000 donation from The Evening Star and Ipswich Borough Council’s Somebody’s Daughter Fund, which saw the public pledge tens of thousands of pounds in the wake of the Ipswich murders.

It will be the first residential centre for women in Suffolk and one of only seven in the whole of the UK.

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“It is about giving women who have battled drug addictions a future,” said Talitha Koum chief executive John Cobbold, at the launch yesterday.

He said the refuge will be home to six women, known as students, who have successfully completed a rehabilitation course and overcome their addictions to the drugs that destroyed their past.

Planning permission has been granted, the building regulations will be in place by March and by May all the legalities will be tied up and the green light will be given for building to start as soon as possible.

But in order to see the project open next year, Talitha Koum is appealing for help to raise the remaining �250,000 needed.

They are looking for volunteers, including people out of work with experience in the construction industry, to dedicate time to help build the centre.

Mr Cobbold said the project is about the right people, in the right place at the right time to make a difference.

He said: “Suffolk has a tragic history of five girls losing their lives. People want to help and Talitha Koum can help and bring hope.” And he urged people to offer their support.

“Social action is the job of all of us,” he added. “We need to come alongside these vulnerable women with a heart of compassion, teaching them how to beat their addictive behaviour through faith and love – bringing hope.”

The charity has plans for a Come Dine with Us charity night as well as a sponsored bike ride from London to Paris among other events.

They are planning meetings with Suffolk Coastal District Council and Suffolk County Council in a bid to see what funding is available and applications have been submitted for a number of grants.

To find out more about donating money or your time visit www.talithakoum.org.uk or call 07935 058685.

n What do you think of the proposals? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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